World + 37 more

Peace Talks in Focus 2018. Report on Trends and Scenarios

Originally published
View original


Executive summary

Peace Talks in Focus 2018. Report on Trends and Scenarios is a yearbook that analyses the peace processes and negotiations that took place in the world during 2017. The examination of the development and dynamics of negotiations worldwide allows to provide a comprehensive overview of peace processes, identify trends and comparatively analyse the various scenarios. Peace Talks in Focus 2018. Report on Trends and Scenarios also analyses the evolution of peace processes from a gender perspective. One of the main objectives of this report is to provide information and analysis to those who participate in peaceful conflict resolution at different levels, including parties to disputes, mediators, civil society activists and others. The yearbook also aims to grant visibility to different formulas of dialogue and negotiation aimed at reversing dynamics of violence and channelling conflicts through political means in many contexts. Thus, it seeks to highlight, enhance and promote political, diplomatic and social efforts aimed at transforming conflicts and their root causes through peaceful methods.
Methodologically, the report draws mainly on the qualitative analysis of studies and information from many sources (the United Nations, international organisations, research centres, media outlets, NGOs and others), as well as on experience gained during field research. The report also cross-cuttingly incorporates a gender perspective in the study and analysis of peace processes.
The report is divided into six chapters. The first presents a summary and map of the 43 peace processes and negotiations that took place in 2017 and provides an overview of the main global trends. The next five chapters delve into the peace processes and negotiations from a geographic perspective. Each of them addresses the main trends of peace negotiations in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, respectively, and describes the development and dynamics of each case in those regions.

Negotiations in 2017: global overview and main trends

During 2017, a total of 43 peace processes and negotiations were identified worldwide: 20 in Africa (46% of the total), eight in Asia (19%), seven in Europe (16%), five in the Middle East (12%) and three in the Americas (7%).
In almost all the cases analysed, the governments of the respective countries were one of the parties to the negotiations. In most cases, armed groups (individually or in coalitions or umbrella organisations) also participated in the negotiations, whilst in some contexts one of the parties to the negotiations was a representative of entities seeking secession, a new political or administrative status or independent statehood with full international recognition. Some of these entities had unilaterally declared independence and even had some territorial control and limited recognition.
A third party was involved in the vast majority of the peace and negotiation processes (35 of the 43, equivalent to 81%). There was a third party in most of the internal processes, either in negotiations (28) or national dialogues (one), and in all six interstate negotiations: Morocco–Western Sahara,
Sudan–South Sudan, Armenia–Azerbaijan (NagornoKarabakh),
Serbia–Kosovo, Israel–Palestine and Iran (nuclear programme). A smaller proportion of the negotiations studied in 2017 (six cases, representing 14%) were conducted directly between the parties or there was no evidence of third-party mediation or facilitation efforts.
Notable was the role played in negotiations by third-party intergovernmental organisations, and particularly the United Nations, which was involved in almost half of the cases analysed in 2017 (20 of the 43 cases, equivalent to 46%) through the work of the UN Secretary-General’s special envoys, mandates for facilitation, good offices, the supervision of ceasefire agreements in some UN missions and UN participation in platforms or support groups for a peaceful solution to various conflicts, such as the Middle East Quartet for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Quartet for the Libyan Political Agreement, the International Support Group for the CAR and the IGAD Plus in South Sudan.
In addition to the UN, regional organisations played a prominent third-party role around the world, especially in Africa and Europe. African regional intergovernmental organisations were involved as third parties in 13 of the 20 negotiating processes identified in Africa (65% of the cases), including the African Union (involved in 10 cases), the Economic Community of West African States, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the East African Community, the Economic Community of Central African States and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region. Regional organisations also played an important mediating and facilitating role in Europe (in six of the seven cases, or 86%), particularly the EU and the OSCE. In the Americas, the regional organisation UNASUR became involved in the peace process in Venezuela, whilst Asia was the part of the world where intergovernmental organisations participated the least in mediating and facilitating dialogue.
In addition to intergovernmental organisations, some states also conducted mediation and facilitation work, like Norway, for example, which was active in Sudan,
South Sudan, Colombia (FARC-EP and ELN) and the Philippines (NDF); Sweden, which was involved in Ethiopia (Ogaden) and Colombia (ELN); and Malaysia, which participated in Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines (MILF) and Thailand (south); to mention a few cases. Finally, religious actors were also involved as third parties in some dialogue and negotiating processes, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Philippines (MNLF), the Community of Sant’Egidio in Senegal (Casamance) and Mozambique and the Vatican in Venezuela.
Considering the uniqueness of each process and taking into account that the details of the issues under discussion are not always made public, some recurring themes in the negotiating agendas included the disarmament of armed groups, the surrender of arsenals and/or the reintegration of combatants, the situation of captives (release, prisoner exchange, etc.), the political and administrative status of certain disputed territories, claims of identity recognition, issues related to national and/or political reconciliation, the adoption of humanitarian measures, efforts to achieve truces, ceasefire agreements and cessations of hostilities and the inclusiveness of the negotiating processes.
No comprehensive, broad-spectrum agreement like the one achieved by the Colombian government and the FARC-EP in 2016 was reached in any of the cases analysed in 2017. Still, some important agreements were reached in various contexts.
Finally, most of the peace processes in 2017 lacked a gender perspective and significant female participation.
This finding is in full agreement with the assessment found in the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on implementing the gender, peace and security agenda, which warned of the great gap that still exists between the commitments made and their implementation in different areas, as well as a decline in female participation in peace processes. According to the available data, women held senior positions in 11 delegations of the nine processes tracked, compared to 12 delegations in eight processes in 2015 and 17 delegations in 2014.
On a positive note, in Colombia a Special Instance was appointed to help to implement the final agreement with a gender perspective. Networks of female mediators were also active. Some of these have started operating in recent years, like Nordic Women Mediators, whilst others were established in 2017, such as the African Network of Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation, the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and the Commonwealth Women Mediators Network.

Regional trends


• In Africa, 12 of the 20 peace processes took place in contexts of armed conflict whilst the remaining eight took place in scenarios of socio-political crisis.

• In most cases (nine), the main parties involved in the negotiations were the governments of the respective countries and insurgent groups.

• Three of the 20 peace processes analysed in Africa had no third parties: the two processes in Nigeria (Niger Delta and Boko Haram) and the Republic of the Congo.

• The African Union was the sole third party in four of the 17 peace processes and negotiations identified in Africa and it collaborated with the UN or other regional organisations in seven.

• Prisoners were release and exchanged to promote trust between the parties and contribute positively to the process under way in Ethiopia (Ogaden), Mali (north), Mozambique, Nigeria (Boko Haram), the Republic of the Congo and Sudan (South Kordofan and Blue Nile).

• The political and administrative status of certain territories was one of the central elements in peace processes in Ethiopia (Ogaden) and Mali (north), the conflict between Morocco and Western Sahara,
Nigeria (Niger Delta), Senegal (Casamance), Sudan (Darfur), Sudan (South Kordofan and Blue Nile).

• There was a positive development in peace negotiations and in reaching agreements in the Gambia, Ethiopia (Ogaden), Mozambique, Republic of the Congo and between Sudan and South Sudan.


• In the Americas, peace negotiations began between the government of Colombia and the ELN and a temporary ceasefire was reached, although the process was beset by enormous difficulties.

• The process to disarm, demobilise and transform the FARC into a political party was completed.

• The talks between the government of Venezuela and the opposition made no headway despite international mediation and there was no rapprochement between the parties.

• The process to implement the agreement with the FARC, which is important from a gender perspective, led to the appointment of a Special Instance to help to implement the final agreement with a gender focus.


• Asia was the area with the highest percentage of cases with direct negotiations without third-party participation.

• Asia was the part of the world where intergovernmental bodies participated the least in dialogue mediation and facilitation efforts.

• One aspect particular to Asia was the significant percentage of cases in which the armed opposition negotiated with the government through “umbrella” organisations that brought together and represented various armed organisations, like in Thailand, Myanmar and India.

• With regard to the negotiating agenda, various processes pivoted on aspects related to selfdetermination, independence, autonomy, territorial and constitutional issues and recognition of the identity of various national minorities.

• Formal negotiations did not begin in Afghanistan, but some progress was made, like the first meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group in Oman after one and a half years of suspended activity.

• In the Philippines, after several months of ceasefire violations and disagreements between the government and the NDF, Manila ended the peace negotiations and declared the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines to be terrorist organisations.

• After being postponed several times, in May Myanmar finally held the second session of the 21st Century Panglong peace process, which ended with the approval of 37 points.

• The Philippine government decided to expand membership of the body responsible for drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law to accommodate various MNLF factions and improve harmonisation between the peace agreements with the MNLF and the MILF.


• The central government was involved as one of the negotiating parties in all the peace processes in Europe, except in the Basque Country, where the state government did not participate in the multilateral talks.

• All the peace processes in Europe were accompanied by third parties through different formats and functions.

• Most peace processes in Europe had rather noninclusive negotiating formats, without public participation, despite civil society demands for participation.

• Some progress was made on humanitarian issues in various peace processes in 2017, like the largest prisoner exchange agreement in Ukraine to date, even if the processes remained mostly deadlocked on the substantive issues.

• The peace processes in Europe continued to lack a gender perspective. Shortcomings in gender architecture were made clear again in 2017, such as the marginal role of the gender committee in Cyprus.

• The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to finalise measures on previous commitments to strengthen supervision of the ceasefire and establish investigative mechanisms.

• The armed group ETA disarmed in 2017 through an international verification and public participation process, although challenges remained in the Basque Country related to coexistence, memory, prisoners and other issues.

• Despite some milestones in 2017 and progress made in governance, power sharing and ownership, the peace process in Cyprus did not make enough headway to reach the expected agreement and gave way to a period of reflection at the end of the year.

Middle East

• One of the features of the Middle East is the high presence of international and regional actors, either by aligning with one of the warring sides or by facilitating and mediating talks.

• The United Nations played a prominent third-party role in most negotiations in the region.

• Regarding the development of the negotiations, there were many cases of deadlock, agreements that did not entail any significant changes in the dynamics of the conflict and adverse atmospheres for the development of the peace process.

• Implementation of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme was affected by a climate of growing tension after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

• In Yemen, the impasse in the negotiations since 2016 continued, despite the implementation of some initiatives to restart the talks.

• The US government’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel seriously compromised the possibilities of reactivating a negotiating process between Palestinians and Israelis.

• Fatah and Hamas announced a new reconciliation agreement aimed at forming a Palestinian unity government, but at the end of the year doubts about its implementation persisted.